If you’re looking for something to do during a city break in Amsterdam, the city boasts over 50 museums.
The exhibits range from Old Masters on one hand to collections of handbags on the other. Some museums are world famous, while others are little known outside Amsterdam. Check out our guide to some of the most famous and some of the more quirky of Amsterdam’s museums.
The museums in this category have been included because they are either world famous in their own right, such as Anne Frank’s house, or their collections include works by world famous artists, such as the Rijksmuseum or the Van Gogh Museum.
One of the most visited museums is Anne Frank’s house, where she spent more than two years hiding during World War II. It attracts thousands of visitors a year, which can result in long queues in peak periods. Visitors tour the rooms where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Germans and can view photos, film images and historical documents from the period. At the end, there is an exhibition about the persecution of the Jews and other incidents of more general discrimination. Anne Frank’s original diaries are on display at the house.
The Rijksmuseum is the place to go if you want to see works by past masters. There is an extensive collection of the works of Rembrandt. Other artists on display include Vermeer, Van Dyck and Frans Hals. In addition to paintings, the museum also has displays of sculpture and delftware. The museum is not just concerned with art and culture from the Netherlands, but also contains a large collection of Asian art.
Van Gogh is one of the most famous artists there has ever been and the Van Gogh Museum is a tribute to his work. It houses the largest collection of his paintings anywhere, allowing visitors to see his development as an artist. In addition to his pictures, the museum also displays some of his drawings and letters. It places Van Gogh in the context of his own time by displaying works by other artists painting at the same time.
Amsterdam was the first city to open a branch of Madame Tussaud’s outside London. The Amsterdam branch of Madame Tussaud’s opened in 1971 and is home to wax figures of the Dutch Royal family and other notable Dutch figures, as well as internationally renowned celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez and Brad Pitt.
Amsterdam is famous for its canals and houseboats. The Houseboat Museum is the only one of its kind in the world and gives visitors a chance to experience what life is like on board a houseboat. Many houseboats are former barges and this one is no exception. You can see how it has been converted to contain a sleeping area, kitchen and large sitting area.
The Museum of Handbags and Purses tells their history, starting in the Middle Ages and finishing in the present day. There are more than 4000 bags on display illustrating changes in fashion and function over the centuries.
The Heineken Experience Amsterdam is a museum not to be missed by lovers of beer. There is an exhibition part of the museum tracing the history of brewing by Heineken in Amsterdam. However, there is also a more light-hearted element, where lovers of beer can watch old beer commercials as well as an actor swimming in beer. There are also opportunities to sample some of the famous beer yourself.
The Jewish Museum is designed to give an insight into the Jewish religion, culture and history. It offers a mix of permanent and temporary exhibitions which are all related to these themes.
The National Maritime Museum is a tribute to the seafaring past of the Netherlands. The highlight of the exhibitions is a replica of one of the trading ships of the Dutch East India Company. The rest of the museum focuses on the role of the sea in shaping the Netherlands and its culture and includes a wide range of different maritime exhibits.
The range of museums in Amsterdam means there is something for everyone. For those looking to visit a number of museums, it is worth buying a museum card. This offers entry into more than 400 museums in the Netherlands for a single one-off annual fee. All you have to worry about then is booking a hotel and flights to Amsterdam which are daily from most UK airports and take around an hour.